The president of world football body FIFA, Joseph Blatter, on Tuesday admitted that he had been forced at times to step on South Africa to speed up its preparations for the World Cup but said he had never seriously contemplated “a Plan B.”
Addressing a press conference in Durban on the occasion of the 100 days to the start of the tournament, Mr. Blatter, when asked whether it had been difficult to organize the World Cup in Africa, said, with a laugh: “Sometimes, sometimes, we had to put some pressure.” But he had never doubted South Africa’s capacity to host football’s largest event, he said.
“You remember one day in Vienna (in 2007) I had Solution B in one pocket and Solution C in the other pocket. Both of them were South Africa,” he said, laughing.
Mr. Blatter described his ambition of bringing the World Cup to Africa — an ambition on which he has staked his reputation, as a “love story”.
He also questioned why some commentators still questioned South Africa’s ability to successfully play host to the hundreds of thousands of foreign fans expected at the tournament.
“Why a certain community in the world doesn’t want to believe in it? Its so easy! It’s trust, it’s confidence and giving something back to Africa,” he appealed.
The press conference at Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was also addressed by government officials, capped a five-day FIFA and media inspection of all 10 stadiums in nine host cities.
While noting that some pitches still need work, FIFA has expressed broad satisfaction with the state of preparations at the three-month mark.
“We are on track and we are ready to host this World Cup,” FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said.